Look who designed my jewellery

News world over is the Ambani wedding and the jewels they are wearing. The bride-to-be Radhika’s jewels are designed by American designer Lorraine Schwartz. What is it that makes overseas jewellery designers a favourite among the elite? Are westerners better at crafts than Indians?

When Radhika Merchant got all dressed up for her pre-wedding festivities recently, all eyes were on the exquisite pieces of jewellery adorning her. Soon enough, the world learned that it was designed by American designer Lorraine Schwartz, who has designed jewellery for no less than Beyoncé and Kim Kardashian.

While Radhika Merchant will undoubtedly dazzle with even more exquisite pieces at her wedding to Anant Ambani on July 12, the big question is why people prefer “Made in US” over “Made in India.”

What can overseas jewellery designers do that Indian designers cannot?

While it’s undeniable that it’s a personal choice, it raises the question of whether Indian jewellery designers can compete with overseas designers in terms of skill.

A personal choice

Farah Ali Khan, a renowned jewellery designer and gemologist, says, “It’s not that the Indian designers don’t have good designs; we have amazing designs and exquisite craftsmanship, and in fact, Indian designers are selling abroad.”

Farah says she is one of the designers who sells not only in India but also internationally. “I’m also known internationally, but I guess maybe they (Ambanis) wanted to work with an international designer. Maybe they believed that their expenditures would remain undisclosed. Choosing an Indian designer for their jewellery exposes them to the risk of financial disclosure, she argues, noting that most designers maintain confidentiality,” says Farah.

Ironically, says Farah, international stars are wearing Indian designers. Her pieces have graced the red carpet at the Oscars, Grammys, and the Golden Globes with celebrities ranging from Priyanka Chopra and Kareena Kapoor to Beyonce and Serena Williams wearing them. “I’ve had people on the red carpet internationally wear my jewellery. Manish Malhotra and Sabir Sachi both have it. Several Indian designers have garnered international recognition for their jewellery designs. So it’s strange when people in India choose international designers versus Indian houses,” she says. However, the designer claims that the jewellery Ambanis chose was stunning, particularly the gemstones like paraibas, which most Indians would not experiment with.

This is because people here tend to stick to the safer choices of diamonds, emeralds, and rubies.

“The Indian designers could do as well or even better, and they should try Indian designers too,” says Farah, pointing out that Ambanis did wear jewellery designed by Indian jewellery houses for the pre-wedding celebrations in Jamnagar, though they chose western designers for the event in Portofino (Italy).

The buzz

Another jewellery designer, Archana Aggarwal feels that when celebrities like Radhika Merchant wear jewellery by foreign designers, it can create a buzz and garner attention.

Archana’s jewellery has graced the likes of celebrities such as Shraddha Kapoor, Parineeti Chopra, Sara Ali Khan, Suzzane Khan, Athiya Shetty, Yami Gautam, Neha Kakkar, Rakulpreet, Esha Gupta and more.

“Celebrity endorsements may influence elite individuals, inspiring them to emulate their style choices. While Indian jewellery designers also offer exquisite craftsmanship and stunning designs, the preference for foreign designers among the elite may stem from a desire for international flair, brand prestige, and the allure of owning a piece created by a renowned global name,” she says.


The design aesthetics offered by foreign designers may differ from the typical offerings in the Indian market. “Their innovative and trendsetting designs can appeal to those seeking something unique and cutting-edge in jewellery,” says Archana.

Especially well-known foreign designers often have established brand names that carry prestige and reputation, she says. According to Archana, the status and recognition of these brands in the global fashion industry may attract elite individuals.

Some international designers create limited-edition pieces or bespoke jewellery, adding an element of exclusivity and rarity to their collections. “This exclusivity can be appealing to elite customers who value uniqueness and individuality. The choice between Indian and foreign designers primarily comes down to personal taste, style preferences, and individual motivation,” adds Archana.

West is brilliant

Disha Shah, founder of DiAi Designs, says India has been known for its intricate craftsmanship, an array of various diamonds and gemstones, and stunning designs. “In fact, it has also been and still is a major hub for manufacturing fine jewellery, whether everyday wear or designer pieces,” she says.

Disha feels the West is brilliant with their design curations, branding, and marketing strategies, and Hollywood has also been a great inspiration for many.

“India does lack a ‘global’ fine jewellery brand, but the jewels that are available here are nothing less than exceptional either. Despite having excellent resources and craftsmanship, Indian jewellery brands receive little recognition due to a lack of marketing investment,” feels Disha.

She says these brands focus heavily on their long-established, customer-centric relationships. Disha adds, “In contrast, wearing foreign brands often serves as a status symbol, reflecting one's position in society and adherence to the latest trends and designs.”

The art of craftsmanship

Indians have always inspired the world with their heritage of architecture, jewellery, and textiles. “But over the evolutionary years, things started changing; the exchange of art across the seas became a common practice, which brought diversification of art globally.

If we observe how designers work overseas, we will understand that it is not significantly different from our own.

Every art piece is carefully and thoughtfully crafted, but the only difference is in the way it is translated into the thoughts of the artist and the artisan,” says Drashty Bhandari, director of Design & Sales Gems and Jewels Palace( Jodhpur).

In contrast to India, the foreign world values artists and recognises their talent.

“If we closely observe the jewellery worn by the Ambani family, it becomes evident that many pieces were sourced from various auction houses with origins in India, including pieces from Mugal and Nizam. Therefore, I believe that Indian designers have also received recognition and an equal opportunity to showcase their jewellery within the family, not just Western or international designers,” says

Drashty adding, “It’s not only the Indian media that neglects to feature Indian designers, but also those who work with designers abroad, despite conducting more thorough research. We’d know that foreign designers procure their major loose precious stones and diamonds from India.”

Attention to detail

“I really don’t think that they care about who is making the product or whether it comes under what brand name; they are really more conscious of the whole look, design, sensibility, and making of the product. So the whole idea of picking up a piece depends on the client’s appearance and mood at that point in time,” says Drashty adding, “Foreign jewellers can easily produce many pieces from reputable Indian manufacturers, but the majority of Indian pieces are not exportable.”

Although it’s a personal choice, it begs the question of whether Indian jewellery designers can compete with abroad designers in competence.

“If we closely observe the jewellery worn by the Ambani family, it becomes evident that many pieces were sourced from various auction houses with origins in India, including pieces from Mugal and Nizam,” Says Drashty.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
Next Story